Have you ever had to keep a promise even when you really didn’t want to?
When I was a little girl, it didn’t take much to make me happy. All I needed in life was my stuffed animals (we are talking, like, ungodly amounts), a karaoke machine, and puppies. If you think I am kidding, well, I am not. I literally sang from sun up to sundown about anything I could come up with. I would make up songs on the spot about running, my goats, puppies, being a princess… whatever it was, there was surely a Hannah song about it likely to the tune of a song from Sound of Music or Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
When I was 7, my parents surprised me with a puppy. Cue, Snickers AKA Snickerdoodle. I promised to take care of this puppy, feed him, watch him, play with him, and make sure he was just the happiest doggy there ever ever was. Eeeeeasssyyyy… right? So night one- Snickers is in the laundry room howling, and I could hear him from across the house like a blaring horn. And I knew that if I could hear him, mom and dad definitely could. So, I grabbed a couple of my stuffies and headed with haste, probably with pink soft curlers in my hair, to the laundry room where I laid on the cold floor with a tiny pup next to the dirty laundry just to keep my promise that I would take care of this puppy. Plus, I was scared to death that mom and dad would decide to take him back if he didn’t keep hush hush through the night. Night after night I would wake up to howls, grab another stuffie and make my way through the dark (let’s be real, running because we all know the monsters that jump out from under the bed and the sofa at night), lay down beside my tiny pup and sing him songs.
I was faithful to my word even when it sucked, and definitely didn’t want to. Sure, night one was semi-sweet. How cute to take care of a crying dog who needs me. By night 5… not so sweet. Sleep would have been nice, but I promised to love this puppy and love him I did.
I reached out to you guys to hear stories about things you made promises to do, but didn’t want to always keep. I heard stories about fulfilling duties for school, keeping promises to friends to be at events you didn’t want to go to anymore, and I heard a lot about love and marriage. In marriage, choosing to keep your promise -your vow to one another- is a daily undertaking. There are definitely days you won’t feel like loving your spouse because you are angry at them for… whatever it is for you that day. But, you choose to even still.
God’s love is the same way.
In Deuteronomy, the people of God were wandering in the desert and failed to follow God’s commandments over and over. Like, guys, come on. Don’t you get it? Follow God, trust him, see Promised Land. It was a feasible and seemingly simple plan. Why couldn’t they keep it together? Time and time again they failed him, and definitely did not deserve his favor. I mean, they were grumbling and angry- he rains down manna for them. Did you know God even made it so that the feet of his people would never swell or blister during their 40 years of walking in the desert? (Deuteronomy 8:4) I just read that the other morning and giggled. Like, what a compassionate God. Even in his teaching and pruning, he cares about the details. He writes them rules to abide by that will allow them the fullest life, and they were building golden Gods. Yet, Moses petitioned God over and over, reminding him of the promises he had made to their fathers and begged him to remain true to his word. And God chose to remain faithful. Not because Moses was that good at arguing with creator of the universe… definitely not. But, because that’s simply the heart of God. He is who he says he is, and that cannot be changed. God made a promise, and he was sticking to it. Even when mankind failed, even when they really messed up, God remained faithful and true to his word. He kept his promises.
Deuteronomy 7: 6-9
“For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. It was not because you were more in number than any other people that He set his love on you and chose you. For you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the Lord loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations.”
God had every right to say, “forget you. you can’t keep true to any of my commands despite the fact I just saved you from a terrible life under slavery, and you’re really just annoying me at this point”, and simply just turned his back on them. But, even still, he showed faithfulness.
I read this story and gasped. I think so often we read the New Testament and see grace and faithfulness through Jesus’ life and works on Earth. Reading a story of victory and the fulfillment of Jesus is sugary and sweet. Even in his death, there was hope and celebration. But, God of the Old Testament… that’s a different story. The dude wiped out people groups for hating him. YET, there was still compassion and loyalty. There was fulfillment of promises and grace. I think we forget that God is the same God then as he is in the New Testament through the life of Jesus. They are one in the same, so of course they possess the same characteristics. But, we forget this. At least I know I certainly do.
I have loved reading the earliest books of the OT the last couple of weeks. My history loving self has geeked a little bit reading the history of mankind, and putting the puzzle pieces together. And most of all, I have loved seeing the heart of God as constant and true. He is who he says he is. He was, is, and is to come. He keeps his promises. And now, because of Jesus, we get to be part of that story. We get to be part of his holy people. We are set apart, righteous, and holy because of faith in the works and life of Jesus. The way God wiped out people groups in order to provide land for his holy people in the OT, that’s the same way he fights for YOU now. That’s pretty sweet. Obviously, because of Jesus, things look a little different. Jesus took on the wrath of God at the cross for the sake of the world. But no doubt, God has the same fury and passion to fight for us. That has not wavered. He wants us to have the best, because we are his.
So, here’s my encouragement. You literally cannot do anything, NOT A THING, that will turn God’s back on you and make him take away his promises to you. Like he remained faithful to the people of Israel, so will he be to you. It might hurt sometimes and you might be thinking “God, have you led us to the desert to simply perish?”, but I can assure you that the Promised Land is coming. It’s on the other side of the lesson. It’s on the edge of repentance. It’s in humility. It’s in forgiveness. It’s in surrender. The Promised Land is available to you, whatever that Promised Land is in your life. What are you praying for right now and wondering if God has stopped listening to your cries over it? Has he finally said, “I am done waking up at 1 AM to go lay down beside you as you howl over and over again”… no! Never. He hasn’t stopped and never will. He is constant and faithful. He is true to his word, he keeps his promises.
Keep praying toward the promise. It’s coming. Love you sweet friends.